“Bloodleaf” by Crystal Smith
Source: ARC in exchange for an honest review
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy
Aurelia is the first princess born to the Renalten crown in two hundred years, destined to fulfill a treaty by journeying to marry Valentin, the prince of Achelva – Renalt’s greatest enemy. Rumors of an unwell, cruel prince abound, and the only thing that eclipses Aurelia’s apprehension of her impending marriage is her fear of those who’d kill her to prevent it.
When an assassination attempt forces Aurelia to use forbidden magic to save a stranger, she is driven from Renalt by the witch-hunting Tribunal and a mob out for blood. But before she can claim asylum in the court of her betrothed, her travel party turns on her, forcing her to trade places with her treacherous lady-in-waiting, Lisette.
Now penniless in Achleva and bereft of her identity, Aurelia must decide if she wants to surrender to her new life or fight for her old one, all while navigating the complicated ties binding her to the enigmatic prince, the unquiet ghost of an ancient queen, and a poisonous plant called bloodleaf.
Aurelia is a pawn in a centuries-long game of love, power, and war— and if she can’t extricate herself from it before Lisette marries Valentin in her stead, she may face losses far more devastating than her crown.
I’m always smitten by fairy tale retellings. I’m a big fan of Goose Girl retellings particularly since it’s not one of the more well known tales. I love Shannon Hale’s version and Thorn by Intisar Khanani is one of my favorite self published books. I had high hopes for this story. Unfortunately the book didn’t quite live up to them.
The story got a bit too witchy for my personal taste. I do enjoy fantasy books and I enjoy magic in stories. I think I enjoy the idea of magic rather than actual witchcraft in the story. The blood magic and self harm needed to perform is wasn’t for me.
I’m a sucker for court politics and royal espionage but Bloodleaf ended up being so boring for me. We’ve got two kingdoms that are ~so~ different but really felt exactly the same? I couldn’t tell you what the difference was supposed to be. Backstabbing happens to the surprise of no one.
Aurelia, our self sacrificing princess, was bland and nothing new. I’ve read many a fantasy novel so she doesn’t really stick out in my mind as something new or different. Zan’s reveal was predictable.
I hate to sound so harsh because Bloodleaf was enjoyable enough. It just wasn’t as amazing as I was hoping it would be.